Help with Claims from Texas Attorneys
If you have been hurt in a car accident in Texas that wasn’t your fault, you may have legal rights to compensation from the driver who was responsible for causing the crash. There is a specific legal process to follow, and it is up to you to take action. But you don’t have to do it alone.
At The Bob Richardson Law Firm, we can help with every step of a car accident claim, from the investigation after the accident to settlement or trial. Call us or fill out our online contact form now for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help with each step in the process of a car accident claim in Texas.
Steps for a Car Accident Claim
Although each case is unique and follows its own path, the outline below highlights some of the steps often taken in a car accident claim.
The first steps after a car accident are to call the police and to get medical help. Both steps are necessary to protect your claim. The police may issue a citation to the other driver and write an accident report that you may be able to use as evidence to show the other driver was to blame for the crash. Seeing a doctor allows you to get your injuries treated and have your injuries documented so you can show how badly the car accident hurt you.
2. Notifying Your Insurer
Should I talk to my insurance company? The next step is to alert your insurer about the crash. Always do this, even if you believe the other driver was to blame. You may need to turn to your insurance company for coverage if the other driver was uninsured or underinsured. However, you should not provide a written or recorded statement to the insurance company – even your own – without the advice of an attorney.
To start a lawsuit against another driver, you must file in civil court. In most situations, you have two years to file a claim from the time when the accident happened
before your claim is time-barred by the Texas statute of limitations. Car accident claims are usually filed in state court in the location where the accident occurred or where you or the defendant lives. There may be exceptions, and your lawyer can explain which court you should pursue your claim in.
When you file your lawsuit, you must provide a statement of the facts and state legal grounds for your claim. There must be a solid legal basis for holding the defendant accountable. An attorney can complete the paperwork for you so your case can move forward.
Service of process is the act of formally notifying the defendant that a claim has been filed against him or her. In some cases, there may be multiple defendants. For
example, you may be able to sue the driver who caused the crash, as well as the driver’s employer if the driver was performing work duties at the time. You may also sue a car manufacturer if a problem with the vehicle caused or contributed to your injuries. You may be able to sue the government agency responsible for designing or maintaining the roads if a defect played a role in the accident.
The defendant will have an opportunity to reply to the accusations made, submitting his or her own documents to the court. If a defendant ignores a lawsuit a default judgment will be entered in your favor.
Usually, the insurance company representing the defendant will defend the lawsuit and respond to the claim.
6. Discovery and Pre-Trial Motions
Both you and the defendant will have time to prepare your cases. You may obtain information from the defendant through the discovery process. For example, you could
obtain the defendant’s cell phone records to show that the defendant was texting, or a truck driver’s log to show that he or she violated hours-of-service rules. You may need a court subpoena to obtain the information you need.
During the pre-trial process, both parties can make motions or requests to the court. A request that the court subpoena a witness is one example of a motion. The defendant might also make a motion to have the case dismissed, arguing that there is insufficient evidence.
The discovery process also involves interviewing witnesses who will testify in court about what happened. You can ask questions of witnesses through interrogatories (written questions) or depositions (oral interviews). A lawyer can take care of this trial preparation for you.
7. Settlement Negotiations
From the time you initially file your claim – or even before – you and the insurance company may engage in settlement talks. This involves negotiating to see if the
insurance company will agree to pay you a reasonable sum of money to cover your losses. The insurance company may wish to avoid going to court if it accepts that its policyholder is at fault, and may make you an offer in exchange for you giving up your right to sue.
You need to be sure the settlement offer covers all your losses and that you know the extent of the harm you experienced before you accept any settlement. An attorney can help negotiate a fair deal. Don’t sign anything until you know the settlement is a good one, since you cannot change your mind later – even if you discover your injuries are worse than you initially thought. Settlement talks can continue until a jury comes back with a verdict, even as you move forward toward trial.
If a case doesn’t settle first, a judge or jury will decide the outcome of your case after a trial. You have the legal burden of proving the defendant was unreasonably
careless, broke a safety rule or otherwise failed to live up to a legal obligation. You also must prove that this breach or negligence was the direct cause of your injury. This must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, which means you must show that more likely than not the defendant was to blame.
An attorney can help make a strong case at trial, presenting witnesses, using testimony from accident reconstruction and other experts, and otherwise demonstrating why you deserve compensation.
The jury will decide first if the defendant is liable and, if so, what compensation you should receive. You may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and emotional distress. If a close family member died in the accident, you may receive wrongful death damages.
If either you or the defendant is unhappy with some aspect of the outcome of the case, there may be an appeal. The verdict will be changed only if there was a
legal error in the initial case. Not all cases are appealed, and you can continue to negotiate a settlement during the appeals process.
Hurt in a Texas Car Accident? Talk to Our Lawyers First
One of the most important steps to take after a car accident in Texas is to call a lawyer who can stand up for your rights throughout the entire process. The Bob Richardson Law Firm is here to help, so call us today.